Surround yourself with people who are smarter or more qualified than yourself in key positions. If you look around and notice you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Don’t hire people just to say “yes” to you. Hire people who will challenge you and give you new perspectives.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Helmich, co-founder of GreenSupply.com and founder of The Helmich Luxury Group.
Josh Helmich is a third-generation jewelry entrepreneur, visionary, gemstone dealer, and consultant. Josh is the founder of The Helmich Luxury Group, and co-founder of GreenSupply.com, an e-commerce site for personal protective equipment (PPE). Prior to founding these two companies, he presided as vice president of Susan Helmich Designs, Inc., and vice president of Steven Kretchmer Designs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Both my parents are entrepreneurs, so becoming an entrepreneur was always the natural path for me. You could even see that come through when I was a kid. I did all the normal stuff, like lemonade a stand. But one funny story I have is that when I was in the sixth grade, I started selling my autographs to my classmates. I was able to convince them that I was going to be someone whose autograph would be valuable one day and it would be a great investment. Looking back I think that sales just came naturally to me no matter what product I was selling.
Can you please give us your favorite “life lesson quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Never stop grinding.” Once you find yourself complacent, you’ve already lost and need to do something else. At one point, when I was in my VP role at a company, I found myself no longer feeling driven. I was just managing people and stuck in the day-to-day rut. I wasn’t pushing myself anymore. That’s when I knew it was time for a change.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
When I was about 15, I read a book called Monster. This was at a point in my life when I was getting in a lot of trouble. Monster painted a pretty vivid picture of how my life might turn out if I didn’t straighten up. It made me realize it’s not the path I wanted to continue on and slowly, I started to head in the right direction.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the pandemic began?
After graduating from Arizona State University in 2003, I took over as vice president for my mother’s company, Susan Helmich Designs, Inc. Overseeing the wholesale sales and marketing division, working with stores, and working with the in-house jewelers overseeing production elevated my spectrum of knowledge and experience in manufacturing and sales.
In 2009, I took a new role as vice president of Steven Kretchmer Designs, where I directed research and development, production, sales, and marketing.
In 2018, I founded The Helmich Luxury Group, a consulting company that comprises all the knowledge and expertise I garnered over two decades in the jewelry industry. We’ve done consulting for some of the largest luxury brands and platinum companies in the world.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the pandemic?
I’m still in the jewelry business, but right before the pandemic, I co-founded Green Supply, which was supposed to be a CBD oil company. But when I saw the direction the pandemic was headed in, we decided to pivot to selling hand sanitizers and masks. We already had the manufacturing connections and a distribution model, so we were able to jump into the fight against Covid-19 right away.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I was actually in China in January 2020, right when Covid-19 started making the news. I knew it was coming to the United States. As soon as I got back, I told my partner Chad Horstman it was coming and we needed to be prepared. I didn’t quite know how big it was going to be, but I knew there was no stopping it from coming. I then spoke with a friend in Shanghai, who offered to help us distribute hand sanitizer. So the opportunity just presented itself, and we took it, because we wanted people to have fair access to masks and sanitizer.
How are things going with this new initiative?
It’s going very well. We have sold close to 100,000 units of hand sanitizer and over one million masks. One thing that’s quickly gaining traction for us is our high-quality KN95 colored masks. We currently have five colors, but are continually expanding as demand arises. People realize this is a long term problem and want to look good with the masks they wear daily. Mask fashion is very hot right right now.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mother. She got me started in jewelry, and she is very talented and hard working. She’s the person who gave me my drive.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
It’s not really a story, but I never realized how hard it was to deal with large freight companies. I never had to deal with shipping cargo across the ocean. The learning curve has been amazing. Most people don’t realize how complicated and time consuming it is to deal with all the red tape.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Empower your employees. The worst thing you can do is micromanage your employees. If you don’t trust them with the freedom to be creative and get their work done, you shouldn’t have hired them and may need to replace them. People operate best when they are given room to think for themselves.
- You can’t do it all yourself. Make sure you delegate assignments. Nobody has enough time to do it all themselves, so if you have the resources and team, share the workload.
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter or more qualified than yourself in key positions. If you look around and notice you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Don’t hire people just to say “yes” to you. Hire people who will challenge you and give you new perspectives.
- Never stop networking. Business is not just what you know, it is also who you know. In today’s digital age, networking is easier than ever. However, you must allocate time each month to continue to network and not just stand in place.
- Keep learning. You’ll never know everything. Keep reading, stay curious, and never stop learning.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I manage the stress of the news cycle by making up my own mind and not blindly trusting any narratives. I watch and read a lot of different factions of the news. I get the full spectrum of viewpoints and take social media with a grain of salt. That way, I can get a lot of different perspectives and make up my own mind. In the end, the facts are usually somewhere in the middle.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would have everyone listen to the opposite point of view. Whether it’s politics, business, or Covid-19, listen to other people. Get outside your bubble. If you only hear what you want to hear, you are doing a disservice to yourself.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Michael Jordan. I grew up playing and following basketball. I’ve always been a huge MJ fan. He’s up there with Muhammad Ali for how he grew his sport. He turned basketball into a global game, and he always did it in a professional way despite how much he was under the limelight.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find our high-quality KN95 masks at www.greensupply.com.